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Published On: Sat, Jul 6th, 2019

Nageswara Rao Removed as CBI’s Additional Director, Sent to Fire Services

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images (5)NEW DELHI : The Prime Minister-led Appointments Committee of the Cabinet on Friday “curtailed the tenure” of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Additional Director M Nageswara Rao and transferred him to the Home Ministry as Director General Fire Services, Civil Defence and Home Guard.
An official order said that Rao, a 1986-batch IPS officer from Odisha cadre, has been appointed Director General of Fire Services, Civil Defence and Home Guard by “temporarily downgrading the post” to the level of additional director general.
The Directorate of Fire Services, Civil Defence and Home Guard is considered a low profile organisation as compared to the CBI and is often attached with National Disaster Response Force.

“Upon the curtailment of tenure of M Nageswara Rao IPS (OD: 1986), Additional Director, CBI by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet and placing of his services with the Ministry of Home Affairs, the competent authority has approved his appointment as Director General, Fire Services, Civil Defence and Home Guard by temporarily downgrading to the level of Additional Director General (level-15 of Pay Matrix), for a combined tenure upto his superannuation on July 31, 2020 or until further orders, whichever is earlier,” it said.
The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet comprises Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah. Earlier, the Centre had also transferred former CBI chief Alok Verma to the organisation, but he had refused to take charge. Rao was trusted twice by the government to take the reins of the agency when it had removed the then agency chief, Verma, and his deputy Rakesh Asthana after their spat became public. Both had accused each other of corruption.
In a late-night order on October 23 last year, the government had divested Verma and his bete noire Asthana of their powers. The government had handed over the charge of the agency to Rao, then joint director, who had reached there late in the night to take over.

Immediately after taking over, Rao had effected massive transfers in the agency, some of which were challenged by the officers in the Supreme Court. He served as the interim chief of the agency till January 8 this year. He again got a chance to head the agency on January 10 after Verma, reinstated by the Supreme Court, was transferred out by the government as DG Fire Services, Civil Defence and Home Guard within a couple of days.

Rao kept the charge till the appointment of Rishi Kumar Shukla, a 1983-batch IPS officer from Madhya Pradesh cadre, as a new CBI chief on February 2 this year. During his second stint as interim chief, the CBI attempted controversial searches at the residence of then Kolkata police commissioner Rajeev Kumar which triggered a political storm between the West Bengal government and the Centre.
Rao had been monitoring the probe on Ponzi scam in West Bengal, sources said. Officials are tight-lipped about the sudden order from the Centre to curtail his tenure. A 1986-batch IPS officer from Odisha cadre, Mr Rao held the position of interim chief of the Central Bureau of Investigation or CBI twice.
In January this year, the government had decided to remove former agency director Alok Verma and his deputy Rakesh Asthana amidst an unprecedented tussle between the two. Alok Verma too had then been posted as Director General Fire Services, Civil Defence and Home Guards, under the Union Home Ministry.
They had levelled allegations of corruption against each other after which the government handed over the charge to Mr Rao till the appointment of Rishi Kumar Shukla as the new CBI director in February this year.
The tension between the two officers peaked after Mr Verma’s team registered a case against Mr Asthana, accusing him of accepting bribes from a businessman being investigated by the agency in a corruption case. Both were then sent on forced leave in October last year following the centre’s intervention.
Alok Verma was replaced by M Nageswar Rao but was brought back by the Supreme Court. On January 10, Mr Verma was again removed as boss of the high-profile investigating agency by a panel led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, just two days after the Supreme Court order.
In February this year, Nageswar Rao was found guilty of contempt for ordering the transfer of an officer investigating the sexual abuse of children at Bihar’s government-run shelter homes by the Supreme Court. Rejecting their apology, the judges fined him and another officer Rs. 1 lakh each and asked them to sit in the corner of the court till it rises for the day, in a rare form of punishment.

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